Reframing news

A Call to Action for Human Service Advocates: If You Want a Different Result, Tell a Different Story

September 3, 2018

The Philanthropy Journal recently published a feature on the National Human Services Assembly and our National Reframing Human Services Initiative. The piece details the history of the initiative and the ongoing need for reframing, along with exploring a few of our lessons learned and some thoughts on implementation of the researched-based communications strategy.

Below is a short excerpt. Read the full version on the Philanthropy Journal site.


Sandra Cyr, Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Lee Sherman and Bridget Gavaghan

Our nation’s immediate and long-term prosperity hinges on ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and make meaningful civic, social, cultural, and economic contributions. As a membership organization for some of the largest, most innovative human service organizations in the country, the National Human Services Assembly has had a front row seat to the sector’s role in fulfilling this shared societal ideal. From scouting programs that support children in their social and emotional development, mentoring programs that build the leadership skills of young people, education and training programs that prepare adults for careers in growing industries, to in-home supports that keep older adults healthy and engaged in their communities, human services are there to build and maintain well-being at every stage of life.

Despite the sector’s essential work, we have struggled to engage the public and policymakers as meaningful supporters and partners. Human service leaders frequently find themselves opposing cuts to public funding, at the federal, state, and local levels. Meanwhile, private sources of funding, from foundations to individual donors, are sensitive to external conditions, like economic downturns or changes in tax policy.

Funding is not the only concern for human services. Despite our expertise, we are too often sidelined in important debates about how public policies should be crafted. You can look to recent proposals to consolidate federal human service programs and add unnecessary work requirements to a range of public benefits to see how the marginalization of our sector can actually undermine health and well-being in our communities.